Monday, June 9, 2008


It hadn't occurred to me until now, but I can't believe the number of zombie films released in 2005, nor did I realize just how many recent entries come from that year--including John Poague's shot-on-video travesty THE WICKEDS. (I guess we can pinpoint when this decade's zombie boom began to crash.) And just like so many of its contemporary camcorder brethren, it's a stale exercise in patience-testing that leaves its viewers unrewarded.

At least THE WICKEDS attempts to tweak the zombie formula, even if its deviations are to little effect. A pair of graverobbers (led by Ron Jeremy, who seems uncomfortable in what's essentially a father-figure role) steal a magical amulet from the coffin of an Anton LaVey-looking vampire, an act that causes the local dead to rise. Meanwhile, in a nearby haunted house, a group of sniggering fratboy morons and their girlfriends--in a ballsy expression of irony on the filmmakers' part--explore the set of a cheesy direct-to-video horror flick (that presumably left all of its props behind after the shoot). When the living dead start causing trouble, Jeremy and his protoge take refuge in the same house, turning the film into yet another cash-strapped NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD redux, this time with a minor ghostly twist.

Despite the vampire overlords and spiritual possession, Poague still doesn't have enough material for a feature-length movie; too much screen time is spent on the characters' bickering, where they reiterate the same point back and forth. And even with the added elements the film covers the same bases as the movies that inspired it. ("What would Bruce Campbell do?" one of the actors asks. He'd turn this piece of crap off and watch his SPIDER-MAN 3 cameo one more time, that's what.) As usual, the performances are terrible--even Jeremy, who's usually pretty reliable in C-grade sludge like this, phones it in; hell, he delivered a more spirited turn in SNATCH MASTERS 8.

Late in the game Poague tries to get "deep" by asking who the Wickeds really are--the rampaging zombies, or the greedy humans who started the mess in the first place? It's a weak philosophical argument, both within and without the story, a grasping attempt to add some much-needed weight to a disposable horror flick. Honestly, I can't even remember if it answers its own question, though no one in here can compare to the DVD company that foists this mess for sheer wickedness.

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